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Origin of the Col
The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.
THE Collects, Epistles, and Gospels always
formed part of the communion office, and are therefore contained not in the Breviary or book of daily service, but in the Missal or massbook of the unreformed Church. The collects which we use are for the most part of great antiquity; very many of them have been used in the English Church for twelve hundred years, and are in the Sacramentary of Pope Gregory, A.D. 590: some are found in the Sacramentary of Gelasius, Bishop of Rome, A.D. 494. It has been seen that improvements in the mode of performing divine service were introduced into the Western from the Eastern Church, as the alternate chant, the recitation of the creed, the form Kyrie eleison, and the use of litanies and processions: and it is probable that these short prayers also were derived from the East, where they were called σvvaπtai, as distinguished from the broken prayers or litanies which preceded them. (Palmer).
The following table shews the antiquity of our collects, and the principal variations which they have undergone. It has been derived
VIII.] COLLECTS, EPISTLES, AND GOSPELS. 185 from Mr Palmer's work (Origines Liturgica), with the assistance of a similar table compiled by bishop Cosin and dean Comber. Where a reference to the Missal of Sarum is not given, it may be inferred that the collect was not used in the English Church before the Reformation.
I. Collects that have been substantially retained from ancient liturgies.
Most of the collects are founded either upon the epistle or gospel; and some appear to have a reference to the first lesson.
The Epistles and Gospels are also, with The Epissome few exceptions, the same that were used Gospels. in the unreformed Church. In the first ages of the Church there were no selections from the Scriptures appointed for special occasions; and such passages were read as the bishop directed. In St Augustine's time it appears that certain lessons were read at certain seasons; and St Jerome is said to have made a selection of lessons for that purpose. In ancient times the Epistle was more commonly called the Apostle.' Thus in the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great the rubric says 'Sequitur Apostolus,'' here followeth the Apostle ;' and it is so called to this day in the Greek Church.
ing of the
The reading of the Gospel has from the The readearliest ages been attended with peculiar marks Gospel. of reverence and honour. In the Eastern
Churches the wooden bells were rung, and the wax candles lighted at this part of the service, as a token of rejoicing; the latter custom is still preserved in the Roman Church, and the former in Ethiopia. The Gospel was anciently read from the ambon or pulpit in the body of the Church; and when the reader, who was usually a deacon, had taken his place, the people rose up, and exclaimed, as we do now, 'Glory be to thee, O Lord.' The people were required by the Apostolical constitutions to continue standing while the Gospel was read. At the conclusion, the Churches of Gaul and Spain sang an anthem or alleluia, in imitation of which practice it is still usual in some of our Churches to say or sing after the gospel, Thanks be to thee, O Lord, for thy holy Gospel.' This practice was perhaps more general at the time of the Reformation, and may have been contemplated by the rubric, which does not enjoin the minister to say here endeth the holy Gospel,' though it does order him to say 'here endeth the Epistle.'
During the season of Advent, we are led from the recollection of Christ's first coming, which we are about to commemorate, to the contemplation of his second coming, to judge